What Does a Successful Account Based Marketing Strategy Look Like?

May 24, 2016

The buzz surrounding account based marketing (ABM) is loud and getting louder. In their 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing Survey, SiriusDecisions found that 92% of B2B marketers recognize the value of ABM and see it as a “must have” business strategy. SiriusDecisions reports their ABM clients are getting impressive results, with 20% larger deal size and a 30% improvement to customer health scores.

Given those numbers, it makes sense that ABM has become a sought-after B2B marketing strategy. But the same survey shows that marketers are still developing the needed skillsets. Nearly half of respondents said they need more support for their ABM program to succeed.

To help you get your ABM program up and running, we recently released The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Account Based Marketing. It features practical advice from people who have achieved great results.

To get you ready for the full crash course, let’s start with the basics. Here are three characteristics of a top-notch ABM strategy.

Sales and Marketing Are in Sync

In ABM, marketing focuses on the accounts that matter most to the sales team, instead of casting a wide net with their lead generation efforts. That means more communication between the teams than most organizations are used to. It’s useful to think of sales and marketing working together as parts of an “account team.”

That means marketing focuses its budget on the accounts that sales deems most important, creating content specifically for these key accounts. Sales and marketing agree on a shared vocabulary, common goals, and metrics used to evaluate success.

Marketing Reaches Vertically and Horizontally across Target Accounts

The traditional B2B sales approach is to focus on a few key decision makers. As the B2B buying process becomes more collaborative, that approach is less effective. Our research shows that an average of 3-5 departments are involved in purchasing decisions, depending on the industry:

For ABM, the goal is to target multiple departments within the account, with personalized content for each. Individual contacts are important, but need to be viewed in the context of the entire account.

In the new B2B buyer journey, vendors need to be known company-wide to have an impact. ABM accomplishes this by targeting a message at scale to the broader buying group.

Content Develops Trust and Shares Knowledge

Building and nurturing relationships is central to a successful ABM program. Our research shows that buyers are more likely to form a relationship with vendors who provide valuable consultation, education, and tools.

So it’s important that your content plan has ample thought leadership content. There are three important considerations for creating content that demonstrates subject matter expertise:

1. Understand what stakeholders believe. Start with research into the existing state of the conversation, so you can meet your reader where they are.

2. Develop and articulate a well-informed point of view. Make a strong case for your position—make it clear that you have the authority to take a definitive stand.

3. Frame your story in terms of value delivered. Back up your viewpoint with real-world examples that demonstrate your ideas in action.

Ideally, you should have a unique value proposition and relevant content for each department that influences a buying decision.

If you’re used to sales and marketing resting comfortably in their separate silos, account based marketing can seem like a radical shift. But it’s not really a bold new way of marketing or selling; it’s a fusion of what works in each department’s toolkit. ABM is a little bit social selling and a little bit hyper-targeted marketing, with each building on the other’s strengths. At the heart of it, the idea is the same as it ever was: Reach the right audience with the right content at the right time. ABM just means doing that more efficiently and, ultimately, effectively.

To learn more, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Account Based Marketing.

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